Nimble vs. 3PAR

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A family dispute: the two HPE heavyweights go head to head!

Modern business is increasingly about digital communication. The need to find the right enterprise storage solutions has never been greater. Keeping up with the demands of customers and employees to deploy digital tools means investing in solutions that can scale and deliver reliable results.

Businesses need to store everything from customer interaction logs to presentations, audio files, and graphics. It is no a surprise that the enterprise storage market grew by 21% in Q2 of 2018.*

When seeking a storage solution for your company, there are a number of factors to consider. Features, security, reliability, and integration will all sit on your list of priorities while attempting to consider value for money.

Here, we are going give you an introduction to some of the options available in the enterprise storage market by comparing the two major solutions on offer from the behemoth HPE — Hewlett Packard Enterprise. One of the largest companies in the world, HPE serves 20% of the enterprise storage market — only beat out by Dell EMC. It is a great place to start if you are looking to get serious about enterprise storage.

How Nimble and 3PAR came to be HPE

HPE split from Hewlett Packard (HP) in 2015. Solely focused on the enterprise market, HPE began life with their sights set on becoming the market leader in enterprise storage. They brought 3PAR with them from its acquisition by HP in 2010 and  soon closed in on Nimble, acquiring the upstart in 2017 for close to $1bn.*

Both of the acquired businesses pride themselves on providing world-class reliable storage and, with the power of HPE behind them, are now major weapons in the company’s arsenal. The mergers have worked well for everyone involved, leading to technological cross-pollination and expansion.

For example, 3PAR has progressed to another level thanks to the incorporation of Nimble’s InfoSight, a cloud-based management and analytics system. This system collects data from across your network and uses machine learning algorithms to analyse that information and even take automated actions to resolve and preempt issues. In fact, the system claims to make 86% of your storage related issues go away — translating into far greater reliability and far less downtime for the end user at less operational cost.*

Meanwhile, the acquisition has enabled both products to introduce an array of new features and advanced tools. The Nimble mobile 3.0 CRM and pipeline manager is a telling example of how being powered by HPE encourages a better UX and increases the value enjoyed by clients.

While the two products were acquired at very different times, they have both enjoyed mutually beneficial relationships with HPE. While some critics suggest that because both of them use InfoSight as a major selling point, they are too close to compete with each other, there are various noticeable differences between the two. This enables HPE to satisfy the cloud and enterprise storage solution needs of any business irrespective of size, location, or industry.

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3PAR: The All-Flash Heavy Hitter

There is no doubt that 3PAR is the stand out product in their arsenal. It is a market leader in terms of AFAs (all-flash arrays). Moreover, all-flash SSD (solid state drive) has quickly established itself as the most popular choice, particularly among the larger corporations in the modern business environment.

Flash technology is a far quicker solution than conventional disks (HDD), which is a crucial factor — time is money. AFAs promote real-time analytics by giving smooth and fast load speeds and prevent general spikes in latency. Data can be shared more easily, they use less power to run and are smaller per unit of storage in terms of their physical space in the data centre. They also generally deliver scale-out capabilities that make them great for private and hybrid cloud solutions.    

3PAR AFAs are high quality and bring a whole host of USPs and advanced features to the table in addition to the already market-leading InfoSight. The architecture behind the cloud-based all-flash system is designed with comfortable digitalisation in mind.

To start with, 3PAR offers an automatic provisioning feature that allows users to start small and scale at a rate to suit their specific journey. This is supported further by multi-tenant design, hardware-accelerated deduplication and compression, and sub-1ms latency. 3PAR additionally encourages greater organisation and efficiency through the use of these adaptive elements.

3PAR brings storage savings of up to 75% while the provisioning runs at 800% the speed. The system can be integrated with existing storage architecture, making the integration process a very easy task. It also offers highly configurable scale-out storage with peer persistence and unified file and block features.*

With integrated flash app protection, 3PAR offers an approach to data storage that can be trusted at all times. 3PAR peer persistence delivers a “six nines guarantee”. That means that a company that experiences uptime less than 99.9999% of the time can get money off their service renewal payments and may be entitled to a refund.*

From a business perspective, this ultimately translates to greater speed and productivity, easier management, fewer inaccuracies and greater value for money. It’s easy to install and manage while the scalability opportunities are fantastic. Storage units in different data centres can be easily connected to create a web of reliable storage architecture. No wonder so many corporations use this solution for their company storage.

Nimble: Storage with Options

As the name suggests, Nimble prides itself on offering an agile and versatile approach to storage. In addition to the all-flash version, Nimble provides a hybrid solution that is deemed preferential by businesses in a whole host of different situations.

AFAs are really good. And, if you can afford them, they are the ‘better’ option. But, they are more expensive, and they aren’t always better value for money — it depends on how you use your system.  

Nimble’s all-flash systems use InfoSight predictive analysis and boast a range of options that are designed with different company sizes in mind. These include AF1000, AF3000, AF5000, AF7000, and AF9000.*

While the AF solutions are good, Nimble truly stands out from the crowd with its hybrid arrays. The hybrid version combines HDDs (hard drive disk) and SSD (solid state drives) with CS1000/H, CS3000, CS5000, and CS7000 models on the market. Meanwhile, a secondary flash array was launched following the merger with HPE. This hybrid feature is designed to be used as a target for backups.

The reason that Nimble hybrid arrays are so good is because of CASL (Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout), their patented file system and architecture that plays a central role in the operating system. Ever since it’s introduction, CASL has been a game changer. CASL is up to 70% denser in its storage because it doesn’t need to chop up data blocks in the same way that traditional file systems do.* More importantly, it segregates ‘hot’ data to localised flash, allowing a hybrid array to essentially operate at the speed of flash once a file or application has been opened.

Other key features include the pointer snapshot technology that requires zero space. When companies are taking snapshots on a regular basis (several times per hour isn’t out of the question), the data saved here can be hugely significant. This is extremely attractive to companies craving an efficient and stripped back data storage solution. The significantly smaller space also means reduced rack space and cooling compared to traditional SAN vendors.

The hybrid system allows you to seamlessly work between a cloud-based storage facility and the company’s data centre. Storage Class Memory means you’ll get more storage per terabyte while Nimble also enables you to tailor data storage to your specific needs. Nimble and the use of CASL lets companies have things on their terms, leaving them in greater control.

3PAR vs Nimble: Do you Need All-Flash all of the Time?

The big question for most business owners is whether all-flash data storage is needed at all times. In reality, Nimble vs.3PAR are pretty similar solutions. Both are powered by InfoSight and other core HPE features. The main difference is in cost. In many ways, you can look at the two products as sitting on a continuum. 3PAR is the premium all-flash solution, while Nimble provides a more affordable all-flash option and a hybrid solution that delivers the best value for money if it also meets your specification requirements

Both solutions can reduce your data centre’s footprint by 75%, offer thin provisioning, and allow for non-disruptive upgrades.* However, 3PAR gives you the best shot at dealing with the ongoing requirements of highly consolidated cloud service providers. Data is never lost while user-friendly SSMC (StoreServ Management Console) has been shown to be very popular and easy to use.

All-flash is the choice for the fastest, optimal performance while 3PAR is particularly suitable for high I/O needs. It uses less power, takes up less space, and has high utilisation. The responsive and predictive analytics allow for smooth growth and expansion.

However, those features aren’t needed by all businesses. Particularly if accessing applications one at a time, or if you can just wait the extra second to access your data, hybrid flash from Nimble offers greater value for money.

Nimble is particularly suitable when handling data when capacity is the primary concern. This includes file storage, backup, and recovery. In these circumstances, hybrid can be just as good as all-flash. In fact, it is better because it is cheaper.

While very few modern enterprises can survive without using flash storage of some kind, it isn’t always a necessity to go all-flash for everything. After all, the scale out and scale up opportunities of Nimble are just as accessible as they are with 3PAR. Realistically, you could build your storage system using both products.

Summary: Flexibility vs. Power

As with all major business decisions, it’s important to remember that there is no single right or wrong answer when choosing your enterprise storage solutions. But, HPE is considered a good starting place for a lot of businesses. Their high-quality hardware, extensive in-house storage lineup and InfoSight are all big reasons for that. The real challenge comes down to knowing whether the unique properties of Nimble vs. 3PAR are the best choice for you. Ultimately, it’s about finding the option that is most suited to the individual challenges faced by your business.

3PAR is the faster and more powerful of the two options, even when looking just at the all-flash solutions. That is one reason that large businesses are likely to find that their preferred solution. However, Nimble’s hybrid arrays are almost as good, delivering the perfect solution for companies with less taxing demands that are looking to keep the costs down. Nimble also deliver all-flash models that can hold their own against anything in the market — 3PAR included. But, anyone looking to go all-flash will usually find that the 3PAR alternative is the most suitable option.

Whether choosing the power of 3PAR or the flexibility of Nimble, choosing HPE is the first step en route to success. The reliable, affordable, and secure systems cater to the storage needs of any modern business. Unless you want to give NetApp, Pure Storage or Hyperconvergence a run for the money?

Sources:

*Worldwide Enterprise Storage Systems Market Revenue Grew 21.3% During the Second Quarter of 2018, According to IDC
*HPE to Acquire Nimble Storage to Strengthen Leadership in Hybrid IT
*HPE Nimble Storage
*The Biggest HPE 3PAR StoreServ Announcement in Years!
*HPE Get 6-Nines Guarantee
*HPE Nimble Storage AF1000 All Flash Dual Controller 10GBASE-T 2-port Base Array
*7 Key Differentiators Explain Why The Nimble CASL Architecture Continues To Disrupt The Storage Industry
*HPE Data Center Networking

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Troy Platts

Troy has spent over 20 years helping organisations solve their data, storage and compute conundrums. He is a regular speaker at vendor events and spends any free time he has keeping abreast of advances in data platform technologies. He also makes a mean curry.

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